The first day of the Australian Open could well see Andy Murray take to the court for the last time in his career. He plays Roberto Bautista Agut in the first match since announcing his upcoming retirement. While he intends to retire at Wimbledon, it was suggested that the hip issues plaguing him could see to his career earlier than this summer. “There’s a chance of that (this being the last tournament) for sure. Yeah, like I said, I’m not sure I’m able to play through the pain for another four or five months.” he said. See the Murray vs Bautista Agut H2H stats.
It had been a tough road back for Murray after a lengthy period out following his hip surgery. He showed glimpses during his 7-5 season last year with wins over Kyle Edmund and David Goffin but it was a struggle for the most part, as shown by his early exits at the US Open and Cincinnati. He began his season with a win over James Duckworth before comfortably losing to the Russian Daniil Medvedev. If there was no sign of the pain and discomfort going away, it seems like Murray’s chances of returning to the top 10 in this form would be incredibly slim.
The pressure will all be on Bautista Agut who should be expected to easily deal with Murray in this instance, especially while the Spaniard is on a good run of form. He won Doha to begin the season, with wins over Stanislas Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic on the way to the title. It is his consistency that allowed him to become a top 20 player for much of the last three years but 2018 saw his streak of 10 straight slam third rounds (or better) come to an end. He has not made it past a fourth round as far and may find it tough with the Karen Khachanov and Marin Cilic standing in the way later on in the draw.
It’s hard to choose Murray as the victor but all the focus will be on the former No.1, especially with the possibility of him calling it a day earlier than he hopes.
Prediction – Roberto Bautista Agut in four sets